Chicago Food and Travel Photographer

The Photographer's Guide To Capturing Chicago - Cloudgate at Sunrise

Millennium Park is a special place in Chicago. It was built to celebrate the new millennium and is host to multiple public art displays including Cloudgate and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Millennium Park is a tourist magnet, but the beauty of the park is enjoyed by the residents of the city as well. 

How to get the Shot 

Cloudgate (commonly called “The Bean”) is usually crowded with tourists all day. I find that photos with large crowds distract from the beauty of the subject. To get a clean shot you have to get to the park early, as in 5:30 A.M. When I showed up I was greeted by a security guard who wouldn’t let me in the park right away. I didn’t realize that the park had official hours since it has no entrance or gate. The park officially opens at 6 A.M., but if you are shooting in the summer the sun rises around 5:40. After talking to the guard for a few minutes he decided to let me in at 5:45. This worked out well because I was able to snap a few shots while the light was good and before the sun came over the trees and structures to the east. Shortly after I captured my shots, more photographers and people arrived at the park.

Editing the Shot  

This shot was processed with Apple’s Aperture and then taken into Adobe Photoshop to be finished. I knew that I wanted to capture The Bean with the city blurred out behind it, but I couldn’t achieve this in camera. In order to capture the shot I envisioned, I applied a medium strength Gaussian blur and painted it into the background of the shot. This gives the image a different twist than the other photos from this location. 


Other Tips 

Shooting “The Bean” from different angles reveals unique reflections and endless photo  opportunities. Also remember to go underneath the structure as the concave metallic shape provides

fun and interesting reflections. After multiple visits to Millennium Park, I’ve come to appreciate the view from the west side of the bean with the city distorted in the reflection. Make sure to shoot from this view while you are there. 

How to Get There 

Millennium Park is right off of Michigan Avenue, so it is very accessible. The number 3 bus runs straight down Michigan Ave; get off at Madison Street. You can also take the Red or Blue line. If you take the Red line get off at the Monroe stop and head east. If you take the Blue line get off at the Washington stop and head east. 

The Photographer's Guide To Capturing Chicago

This post is part of an eBook I wrote about the best places to photograph Chicago. If you enjoy this post consider buying the ebook to support my site and to get access to all the best locations in Chicago!

The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago

The Photographer's Guide to Capturing Chicago was written to help visitors and Chicago photographers find and capture the best locations in and around Chicago. The book describes various locations, how to get the shot and the best ways to access over 25 of the best locations in Chicago. Readers get access to final processed images, processing tips and maps for each location. Skip the research and get straight to shooting!

Add To Cart

Chicago Zombie March 2012

I finally had a chance to check out the annual Chicago Zombie March a few weeks ago and I was impressed by the creativity, organization, and downright playfulness of the zombies.  I talked with a few of the participants and apparently there were more than 2,000 people that RSVPd for the event.

The event had all kinds of zombies and the amount of time and thought that went into the costumes was really cool.  The zombies started at The Bean at Millenium Park and marched through the city.  I only stayed for the main congregation and saw off the crowd.  For some reason I love everything to do with zombies and this was a fun way for me to live out my own Walking Dead without worrying about being bitten or ambushed by a bunch of infected dead.  Kind of fun if you ask me.

The zombies weren't just kids either.  There were whole zombie families, zombie husbands and wives, and even naughty zombies.  I'm thinking that next year I might have to participate :).  I'm not sure that I have the time or patience to put on all that blood and to get dressed up.  Maybe I'll just photograph it again. :)

Of course this whole march took place in the middle of one of the busiest places in Chicago for tourists and weddings.  While the zombies were congregating, a wedding party showed up to take pictures by The Bean.  I'm not sure if the bride was amused or horrified but they took a few pictures with the zombies and The Bean in the background.  Pretty funny if you ask me. I'm sure those pictures are going to go right on the cover of the wedding album.

It was a lot of fun to see the excitement and all the people who came out to participate in the event.  Apparently there is group that puts on more than a few events per year (who knew).  You can visit for more information.  If you get a chance to check out the 2013 march I highly recommend it.  It's one of those things that you only get to experience in a big city.